School board members get a taste of student lifeJan 11, 2013 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
New cafeteria menu includes items that meet the guidelines of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
Fremont County School District 25 board members got a literal taste of student life Tuesday when they sampled some of the lunch items served daily at Riverton schools.
The representatives seemed pleased with the fare, which included macaroni and cheese, tacos, bread sticks, and an all-you-can-eat vegetable and fruit bar.
"I found it quite good," board member Dean Peranteaux said.
Board chair Mark Stone and member Glenn Ogg agreed, nodding their heads as they chewed their meals.
"If you go hungry here, it's by choice," Ogg said.
The board dinner was organized through Lunchtime Solutions, the company that provides meals for District 25 and 41 other schools in six states. Lunchtime Solutions regional manager Elliott Warshaw said it's important for school representatives to have first-hand experience in the lunchroom.
"School boards often make decisions about the food service program, and they field complaints about the food service program," Warshaw said Tuesday while meals were served in the Rendezvous Elementary School cafeteria. "But there's often a disconnect there because they (rarely) go to the school and eat lunch."
It was especially important for board members to try the school meals this year so they could experience food that is compliant with the federal government's updated nutrition standards as outlined in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
Warshaw said all Lunchtime Solutions schools have been certified for an additional six-cent-per-meal reimbursement through the act, which reportedly requires that lunchrooms offer fruits and vegetables every day; increase servings of whole-grain-rich foods; provide only fat-free or low-fat milk; limit calories based on the age of children to ensure proper portion size; and reduce amounts of saturated fat, trans-fats, added sugars and sodium.
"We pledged to do all we can to follow all of the rules," Warshaw said. "There were 1,700 man-hours involved in developing the menu."
Despite the time it took to ensure compliance, Riverton school officials said Lunchtime Solutions already met many of the act's requirements before it was implemented.
"Riverton didn't experience the change pains that others did because of other changes we had made already," Superintendent Terry Snyder said last month. "Some districts (were serving) lots of pizza, gravy and biscuits. We hadn't been in that pattern of serving meals, so I don't think our students noticed the changes nearly as much."
For example, local students already were served fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
"That's important," Warshaw said, pointing to the all-you-can-eat fruit and vegetable bar. "This comes with every meal."
Signs posted above the fruits and vegetables encourage students to take as many of the healthy sides as they can eat, and Rendezvous principal Mary Jo Chouinard said a lot of her pupils take the suggestion.
"It's amazing how more kids are taking salad these days," she said. "It's there, and they find that they like it."
The district will continue to work with Lunchtime Solutions to provide healthy food options for students, with plans for a new breakfast program set to begin in February.